Reporting Julie Fisk
“The Master” stars Joaquin Phoenix as a naval veteran returning home from World War II when he connects with a cult and its charismatic leader.
The web has been calling “The Master” a movie based on Scientology and while that might have some merit, it’s not actually what the film is about. The focus lies on Freddy Quell, a war vet played by Joaquin Phoenix, who returns home addled and lost. He meets Philip Seymour Hoffman, the leader of a spiritual movement, and the two begin a twisted bromance.
“The Master” is written & directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, who also wrote and directed “Boogie Nights” and “There Will Be Blood,” so Oscar chatter about this film is obviously high. You can’t expect a boy-meets-girl-happy-ending-movie from this director though, and “The Master’s” insistence on doing whatever it wants can be frustrating. It’s the most cinematically stunning movie I’ve seen in years though. Anderson expertly combines idyllic Norman Rockwell images with the darkness of Post-Traumatic-Stress-Syndrome and alcoholism.
Joaquin Phoenix’s performance as Freddy Quell is astounding. There’s one jail-house melt-down scene that makes me question Phoenix’s actual sanity, but that’s nothing new. He’s also the main reason I’m giving “The Master” a B+. If Joaquin Phoenix isn’t nominated for an Oscar for this one, it’s simply because the Academy hates him, which just might be the case.
Here’s a hint though: Freddy Quell dabbles in sexual deviance. That theme runs through the whole movie, so be mindful of who you bring. Seeing “The Master” next to your Grandma could get pretty weird.